Book VIThe course of Divine operation in the world has from age to age been a manifestation of the Divine character, continually receiving new and stronger illustrations to the completion of the Christian revelation by the ministry of Christ, and his inspired followers, and still placing itself in brighter light, and more impressive aspects, as the scheme of human redemption runs on to its consummation. —WatsonArgument
God, eternal, self-existent, infinite, ineffable. – The Fountain of being. – His nature and counsels inscrutable. – His image in creation obliterated by sin. – Dark and desolate condition of man. – Incarnation of the Son of God, for the manifestation of the Divine character, and the redemption of the world. – Jesus Christ came without the insignia of earthly grandeur, to establish a spiritual kingdom, which shall silently and gradually increase, until it subjugates the kingdoms of this world. – Angels celebrate the Saviour’s birth. – Worship of the Magi. – Introductory ministry of the Baptist. – Messiah’s youth, baptism, fasting, temptation. – Commencement of his ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth. – Impiety of the Jews. – Their expectation of a secular kingdom. – Call of the disciples. – Doctrines taught by Christ. – God is Spirit. – Immortality of the soul. – Resurrection of the body. – Judgment. – Providence. – Divine law explained, enforced, fulfilled. – Miracles wrought. – Sins forgiven. – Transfiguration. – Announcement of approaching sufferings. – Solemnity of the subject. – The Passion. – The Crucifixion. – Portentous consequences. – Deliverance of mankind from the power of hell and death. – The Resurrection. – Mary Magdalene. – Angels. – Charge to the disciples. – Ascension. – Mediatorial reign. – Advancement of Messiah’s kingdom, under the similitude of a tree.
When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His son.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
As joys the traveller who, o’er deserts wide,
His darkling path by starry lights hath steer’d,
To see the sunbeam gild the mountain’s side,
The beauteous heavens of veiling darkness clear’d;
To greet the plains by ripening harvests cheer’d,
Bright dew-drops sparkling in the vale below;
Forth from his tent, ‘midst woodland beauty rear’d,
To mark the husbandman rejoicing go,
To prune the empurpled vine, or figs that clustering grow:
Even so the Muse, whose long and devious way,
Through twilight gloom hath lain, or midnight shade,
In search of sacred Truth’s celestial ray,
Rejoices now to see the shadows fade.
Effulgent, in majestic strength array’d,
Now bursts the pure unclouded Day-Spring forth,
Night’s lingering mists his quickening beams pervade,
Exulting nature hails Messiah’s birth,
And Peace from heaven descends to dwell with man on earth.
There is a light which dims the seraph’s eye!
It veils that unapproached Majesty,
Who, boundless, causeless, infinite, alone,
Rear’d in eternity his awful throne;
Who, ere one vital pulse creation knew,
Forth from Himself his wondrous being drew,
Himself comprising all; within whose mind,
In bright idea, ere to form confined,
Lived this fair universe; beneath whose eye
Potential life and present being lie.
The ineffable, whose light on chaos broke;
And order, grace, magnificence, awoke,
And worlds of intellect, and worlds of sense,
His works of wonder, power, munificence,
Abroad diffused his glory’s gladdening beams,
And pour’d forth blessing by a thousand streams.
Who on that Sun’s insufferable blaze,
With eye uncurtain’d, shall presume to gaze?
Tread the dim precincts of his inmost shrine.
Nor, trembling, deprecate the wrath Divine?
Who shall draw near, and not bewail his pride?
Canst thou the lightning’s flaming shafts abide?
Canst thou endure the splendours of that Eye?
Forbear! lest blindness curse thy scrutiny!
O stay! ere yet his anger’s burning breath
Burst forth to light thee to the shades of death!
In depths unfathom’d, lo, Jehovah dwells!
To none the secret of his name he tells,
Nor council holds on his mysterious ways
With saint or seraph. Angels silent gaze,
Adoring, trace his footsteps in the deep,
‘Midst rolling clouds behold his chariot sweep,
Yet, all ineffable his wondrous course;
Nor eye, nor finite mind, pervades the source
Whence Mercy, Justice, Doom, Salvation flow,
Why earth rejoices, fiends lament below,
Why pitying Love o’er Adam’s offspring yearn’d,
And death to life, the curse to blessing turn’d.
Essential glory veils its dazzling beams,
Yet downward in perennial efflux streams;
To earth, to heaven, its holy radiance flows,
In heaven, on earth, Jehovah’s impress shows,
And claims from all beneath, from all above,
Obedient homage and adoring love.
His nature on his glorious works impressed,
On star-sprent skies, on earth’s maternal breast.
On spirits, character’d by gifts Divine,
His wisdom, goodness, power, reflected, shine,
And vast creation’s countless links proclaim
His grace transcendent, as conceal’d his Name,
But man, by sin perverted, sunk in night.
Nor knew his Name, nor read his works aright.
Nor Deity amid his wonders saw,
Nor in his heart retain’d his Maker’s law,
Obscured the glories of the Eternal Mind,
And wander’d in Delusion’s mazes blind.
Its tangled paths with weary footsteps trod,
And, inly desolate, the unknown God,
‘Mid clouds of deep impending darkness, sought;
Yet, strengthless, wrestled with the labouring thought,
And pour’d the prompted prayer, and heaved the sigh,
That some bright beam, some radiant embassy,
Might rend the veil, benign, to earth descend.
Restore the living light, and doubts and sorrows end.
He comes! his people’s hope, the Gentiles’ light!
Receding angels, on that wondrous sight,
Astonish’d, gaze; while, from his inmost shrine,
The bosom of Paternal Love Divine,
Essential Deity, with glory crown’d,
Through vast eternity’s unmeasured round,
The Son, with all the Father’s grace replete,
Passes mysterious forth! prepared to meet,
In mortal coil, man’s penalty of wo,
The long-lost bliss, the path of life to show,
On earth, in all the majesty of love,
To utter secrets ask’d in vain above.
Object of earliest faith, of earliest hope;
Of promise, symbol, prophecy, the scope;
He comes! and night before his presence flies;
Exulting nature hails the opening skies;
Heaven stoops to watch the energies of Love;
And sacred Justice, bending from above,
With holy Peace unites in kind embrace;
And Truth and Mercy hail the reign of grace.
He comes! the spotless shrine receives its Guest;
His virgin mother to her wondering breast
Clasps the long-promised Heir. That holy Seed,
Great Bruiser of the serpent foe decreed,
Incarnate Deity, on earth appears,
And God with men his fleshly temple rears.
Emmanuel comes! the’ Anointed, to proclaim
The awful glories of Jehovah’s name.
He comes! the Covenant- Angel, to fulfil
The mystic purpose of the Father’s will.
He comes! the consecrated Victim, seal’d,
Announcing ceremonial signs repeal’d.
The Lamb, before the world’s foundation slain!
He comes! to cleanse the deep original stain;
The ransom of a captived world to pay;
To bear the sins of all mankind away.
Lo, types rejected, holocausts disown’d ;
Man’s mortal guilt uncancell’d, unatoned;
He comes, to heave from earth the direful curse,
To reconcile an alien universe.
Messiah comes to die! He comes to rise;
To track life’s lucid pathway to the skies;
To show heaven’s pearly gates unbarr’d, and Death
A crownless captive in the gulf beneath.
He comes, in all the majesty of grace,
To teach, to rule, to save, the fallen race;
With heavenly lore the untaught mind to fill;
Reclaim the wayward from delusive ill;
To cheer the mourning breast, sustain the weak,
The friendless succour, and the lost to seek;
To break the captive’s chain, new life impart,
And joy, and blessing, to the humble heart;
In every act, in every word benign,
The great Exemplar of his Church to shine;
To reunite, in bonds of holiest love,
Man’s ransom’d spirit to its Source above.
He comes to build his throne; yet not to bear
Earth’s ensigns of his regal character.
No gorgeous purple waits him; for his hand
Extends no glittering sceptre of command.
His rule is o’er the mind, the heart, the soul,
The will surrender’d to his sweet control.
On Truth’s eternal rock he comes to base
His changeless kingdom of unfolding grace;
His edifice of living stones to raise,
And fill his temple with his glory’s blaze;
With silent, ceaseless energy of might,
Unseen, to sever from its mountain height
That destined stone, beneath whose massive stroke
Earth’s dark idolatries and pageants broke;
Itself stupendous in its strength shall rise,
A pile majestic towering to the skies;
Beneath its adamantine base extend;
And o’er the world its sheltering shadow send.
No Messenger of grace to sects confined,
He comes the Friend, the Kinsman of mankind;
Nor clime, nor country circumscribes his love;
‘Tis free, spontaneous, as those beams above.
No narrow bounds the stranger Guest repel;
The sons of Japhet in his tents shall dwell;
No longer in exclusive glory known,
Beneath his shade shall Israel rest alone;
But all in covenant amnesty embraced.
Earth’s weary tribes his feast of mercy taste;
Gentiles and Jews his equal blessings share;
One folded flock beneath one Shepherd’s care.
He comes! Do princes from their thrones descend?
Do suppliant kings the Stranger’s state attend?
Does earth her splendid palaces prepare,
Spread the soft couch, the costly banquet rare?
With songs of triumph rend the echoing gale.
Her King’s approach with trump and timbrel hail?
Bid odorous flowers perfume the sacred way,
Or curling incense round his temples play?
Greet with the glad salute, the bended knee,
Proflering meek homage to his Majesty?
No: sceptred princes on their couches sleep;
Their regal thrones unconscious monarchs keep.
Earth has no eye to see, no ear to hear,
No tongue to greet the glorious Stranger near.
Her whirling orb its restless course pursues;
Sense bounds its interests, time contracts its views;
Wealth, Pleasure, Pride, their fluttering pinions spread;
And Hope, and Vanity, with cobweb thread.
Weave pictured draperies, whose texture frail
One glittering moment fans the sportive gale,
Then flits like filmy gossamer away;
An insect’s toil on an autumnal day.
Is all then silent? Does no watchful eye,
Attendant, mark incarnate Deity?
Earth heedless rolls, and kings supinely sleep;
But hell is roused, and angels vigils keep.
Amazement seizes on the powers of night;
Admiring seraphs mark the wondrous sight,
And glow with holier love, in tenser awe;
From heaven’s bright plains their shining ranks withdraw
And throng, with sounding plumes, the’ ethereal way,
On Bethlehem’s fields to tune the sacred lay,
To wake with songs divine terrestrial spheres,
And herald Him, the Star, whose light appears
With radiance newly risen, on Judah’s skies,
The cradled Babe, that in yon manger lies.
Lo, nature sleeps, and every tongue is mute;
Celestial fires through midnight darkness shoot.
Not half so bright Arcturus’ golden beams,
Nor glistering Sirius o’er heaven’s concave streams.
One dazzling minstrel leads the choral train;
A thousand voices catch the echoing strain;
Ten thousand thousand pour their gladdening notes;
From lyre to lyre the mighty music floats;
Nor earth till now such sounds harmonious heard;
Nor angels hymn’d, since that Omnific Word
When He, incarnate now, all potent, spoke,
And lo, a glorious universe awoke!
“Shepherds, ye whose fleecy charge
Soft on Bethlehem’s pastures lie,
Leave your flocks awhile at large,
Hear our joyous embassy.
Fear not, though the gloom of night
Reddens with unearthly light;
Fear not, though your tranquil plains
Echo with unwonted strains;
Though our plumed legions near
All too bright for earth appear.
Fear not; for lo, we bring
Glad sounds of Christ, your King!
On this auspicious morn,
In favour’d Bethlehem born,
The Saviour of the world we show,
And peace proclaim to man below.
“Shepherds, seek your infant Lord,
Not in Herod’s gorgeous dome;
He by highest heaven adored,
Sojourns in an humbler home,
David’s Heir a manger holds;
The swathe his flexile limbs enfolds.
Go, by this appointed sign
Recognise the Guest Divine;
Go, worship at his feet,
Your new-born Saviour greet;
Go, spread the joyful tidings round;
Bid every car receive the sound!”
Sudden, from the cleaving sky,
Angels throng the hallow’d space;
Heaven’s seraphic minstrelsy
Ushers in the morn of grace.
Sudden, tongues as flames of fire,
Voices, as the soul of song,
Blended in harmonious quire,
Pour the raptured notes along;
Anthems, such as cherubs raise,
Circling bright the’ eternal throne,
Solemn symphonies of praise.
“Glory to the Holy One!
Glory to God Most High,
And peace on earth!” they cry.
Heaven’s starry vault returns the song,
While loud and sweet the choral throng
Their pure abounding joys prolong.
“Good will to man!” exultant swells
Their holy ecstasies of love;
And, soft, the parting rapture tells
Of Truth and Mercy join’d above.
‘Tis past! the hallow’d strains decay;
The last hosannah gently dies;
Heaven’s shining minstrels soar away,
To sound their triumphs through the skies.
Morn, with empurpled wings outspread,
Eclipsed the fading lights above,
Celestial spheres sweet influence shed,
And all was harmony and love.
As if, even yet, that angel band
Ambrosial fragrance there distill’d;
That still their wings the ether fann’d,
That still the air their presence fill’d,
That still their ecstasies of praise
Rose, rapturous, in unutter’d lays.
Yet leave the consecrated scene,
A more mysterious sight behold!
Not angels, bright in dazzling sheen,
With wings of flame and harps of gold,
Are glorious as that Deity
Who now in infant weakness lies.
Go, shepherds! bow the suppliant knee,
To Him, the Lord of earth and skies.
Go, highly favour’d, go,
And hail your King below!
To pomp, and power, and pride,
Is your transcendent privilege denied;
To them, no flaming convoy sent,
No troops of Angels jubilant,
The birth of the incarnate Saviour show.
No; to the meek, Messiah’s favours flow;
Himself is meekness, and his train
He gathers from earth’s lowly sons;
Contemns the lofty and the vain,
Nor turns to princes on their thrones,
But to the poor his healing Gospel brings,
And o’er the desolate extends his mercy’s wings.
Heaven sends its harbingers to hail the morn
Of glorious promise; to the Saviour, born
In mortal weakness, holy songs to raise.
And lift their triumphs in celestial praise.
From distant climes, by starry radiance led,
Their costly gifts Sabean sages spread:
With spicy gums and orient incense greet,
Pour their rich offerings at the Infant’s feet;
First fruits of Gentile worship grateful bring,
Adore, in Bethlehem’s Babe, Judea’s King.
In Israel’s star, earth’s promis’d Saviour see,
And hail the world’s Desire, — the incarnate Deity.
Heaven sends its harbingers. A powerful cry
In Judah’s wilds proclaims Messiah nigh!
Bids desert earth its rugged paths prepare
To meet the royal step of David’s Heir.
‘Tis He! the long-predicted Prophet seal’d,
The Herald, in Elijah’s power reveal’d.
Ye valleys, rise! descending mountains, flow!
Be still, ye tempests! cease, ye winds, to blow!
“Wait, listening Nature, on that warning voice
In solemn silence! lonely wilds, rejoice!
It speaks salvation near, with sounding cry,
Commission’d pioneer of Deity;
Proclaims the Highest, on his march of grace,
The Day-Spring rising on the darken’d race.
Hear, ye who long with faith’s transpiercing eye
Have watch’d the clouds that dim the twilight sky,
Hear; and with Israel’s sainted seers rejoice,
Exultant hearken to that herald voice;
It speaks of Him, by patriarchs seen of old.
Of Him, by prescient prophets long foretold.
Of Him, the Horn of David’s regal line.
The Seed, to Abraham given by Oath Divine.
Hear; and while echoing rocks his strains repeat,
While sterile earth springs verdant at his feet;
Hear; and to Heaven your glad hosannas pour,
Jehovah’s truth with thankful songs adore.
Messiah comes! behold his kingdom nigh;
Effulgent brightness gilds the opening sky,
Death’s dreary shades before his beams disperse,
And love and peace restore the universe.
But sterner tones that voice precursive bears,
And Mercy’s path by Judgment’s trump prepares.
Sounds long and loud the deep reproving cry.
And vehement, in holy energy.
Repentance and its hallow’d fruit requires,
Ere yet the winnowing fan, the purging fires,
Disperse the chaff, the worthless husk consume,
And whelm the sinner in approaching doom.
By Jordan’s stream, severe in grace he stands,
And loud proclaims to Israel’s gather’d bands.
While yet his hand the searching rite applies,
That Prophet near, whose mightier energies
The Spirit in baptismal streams shall shed.
And crown with fire the consecrated head.
‘Mid lowly men a lowly stranger placed,
Messiah’s opening years no splendours graced.
In barren ground, a frail, untended shoot,
The stem of Jesse struck its slender root.
No curious eye, with keen, observant glance,
Mark’d the young sapling toward its strength advance,
Save Mary, watchful mother; well she knew
The sacred angel’s salutation true.
And oft and deeply to her pondering thought
Those solemn words of power and mystery brought;
Mused on the darkling theme of destinies
Link’d with her dearest hopes, the fall, the rise,
Of Israel, in the sacred shrine reveal’d,
While covenant rites the hallow’d Infant seal’d,
The mystic sword which toward her bosom turn’d.
By seers in dimly gleaming light discern’d:
These oft revolved, maternal hope, or fear,
The raptured smile, the full o’erflowing tear,
Spontaneous told; but in her pensive breast
Slept silent thoughts, to Heaven alone express’d;
To Heaven alone; for earth no commerce shared
With griefs or joys, but for herself prepared.
Subject to human weakness, human wo,
A gentle child Messiah dwelt below;
In meek submission own’d parental sway,
Nor turn’d from nature’s voice his ear away;
Soft, docile, sweet, yet mystery round him hung,
Maturest wisdom fill’d his youthful tongue.
In converse high his Father’s work he wrought,
With sages reason’d, and with doctors taught.
Deep in his breast, by none but Heaven discern’d,
Intensest zeal with kindling ardour burn’d,
Till blazed in holy light the sacred flame,
And show’d the Day-Spring whence its splendours came.
The sign was given, by Jordan’s silver flood,
While round the Baptist prophet Israel stood;
While on his burning lips that mightier name
Enkindled mystic fires, lo, Jesus came,
And there the solemn rite baptismal sought.
Intent in holy prayer and raptured thought.
Silent he rose from those pure waters bright,
When, lo! from opening heaven, in lambent light,
The dove-like Spirit, hovering, came, and spread
His wings of glory o’er Messiah’s head;
While, from the’ eternal throne, a voice Divine,
In awful sanction join’d the mystic sign,
“Thou art my Son; my well-beloved; in thee
The Father rests well-pleased.”
Hail, Father, Son, and Spirit, glorious there
In concert join’d a rebel race to spare!
Hail ! Love, and Light, and Grace, and Energy,
Which, linking man with God, drew up on high,
Even to thy throne in heaven, a world that fell
In guilt and judgment to the depths of hell.
Attested thus, by solemn witness given,
The covenant Messenger, the Sent of Heaven,
Sanction’d and seal’d, to desert wilds he pass’d,
To suffer there the long-protracted fast;
To meet temptation, subtle, foul, and vain,
To hold discourse with sorrow, weakness, pain;
Hunger, and thirst, and weariness to bear.
With beasts unhoused, beneath the midnight air;
To foil the tempter’s arts, though proud and bold,
And practised long, and prevalent of old;
To wield the eternal Spirit’s two-edged sword,
To prove the authority of truth restored;
Heroic Virtue’s perfect form to show,
Man unseduced by man’s malignant foe,
Repelling sense, and sophistry, and pride.
Retrieving him, who, erst in Eden tried,
Fell by the murderer’s arts: — for this he bore
Hell’s dark suggestions, bow’d in anguish sore.
And wrestling supplication, at His shrine
Who sent him to achieve that work Divine;
And O, mysterious in his justice! there
Exacted, stern, a deep, distasteful share
Of that sad cup, whose bitterest dregs applied,
Patient, he drank, nor turn’d the draught aside.
Apart from man, yet Heaven the conflict saw;
Around the throne, in strangely silent awe,
Consorting angels press’d, if haply stream
Of new-fall’n light, or undiscover’d beam
Uprising from the abyss, to thoughts confined,
Might show this secret of the Omniscient Mind.
In vain; the depths of suffering Deity
Nor finite powers on earth, in heaven, may see.
Yet angels, ministrant, from heaven descend,
Messiah in his sorrowing steps attend.
And earth, released, Redemption’s boon receive,
And through Divinity incarnate lives;
Adores the mystery it cannot trace,
The Godhead’s glory in Messiah’s grace.
Then, Galilee, thine eyes beheld the light!
Sudden, athwart the shades of death and night
Celestial glory blazed: then, on thine ear
Fell words of peace, glad sounds of mercy near.
For lo, Messiah’s gracious lips distill’d
His doctrines as soft showers; instruction fill’d
Each gentle accent of his hallow’d speech;
He told of secrets science could not teach.
Yet did he hide his counsels from the wise,
And taught to babes celestial mysteries;
Gradual as opening morn infused the night,
From filmy vapours purged the mental sight.
Not his the garb of philosophic pride,
Or wisdom’s boast; but simple, dignified.
He, meek, sublime, ‘mid listening crowds appeared.
And humble hearts with heavenly solace cheer’d.
Hush! ’tis the Sabbath! At the hour of prayer,
To seek Jehovah Israel’s tribes repair;
Within his house in hallow’d worship meet,
And through the clouds that roll beneath his feet
Await those glimpses of celestial light,
Which gild heaven’s higher courts with radiance bright.
Ye men of Nazareth, whose wistful eyes
Through darkling shades have watch’d for morning’s rise
Ye saints, amid the worldling crowd unknown,
Unloved, unhonour’d, save by Heaven alone;
Ye, who for Israel’s Hope expectant pray,
Who ardent long to hail Messiah’s day;
Approach! Behold the Star of Jacob nigh!
Behold a brighter blaze of Deity
Than ever from cherubic splendours pour’d,
When rapt in awe the trembling priest adored!
Yet where? For on these humble, hallow’d walk
No light, save heaven’s, in chasten’d dimness falls.
Behold that well-known Form! How meek its grace!
Yet there the Godhead dwells; and from that face
The beams of Deity reflected-shine;
That human temple holds the Guest Divine.
Yes! there, in Mary’s Son, Emmanuel see!
O haste! in homage bend the reverent knee!
Adore him in majestic grace subdued!
His eye beams peace! ‘Tis heaven’s similitude.
Glistening, like sapphire skies, intensely blue.
Yet veil’d with love, as morn with orient dew.
He speaks! O listen to that soothing voice;
Its accents bid the drooping heart rejoice.
Hear! for his words as living waters flow.
Not crystal springs that bless the vale below
More grateful to the traveller’s eyes appear,
Than Mercy’s message to the mourner’s ear,
Isaiah, gifted seer of elder time,
Whose raptured spirit soar’d in songs sublime,
On whom the glory of Messiah’s day
Darted through distant skies its lengthening ray!
From thee his hallow’d theme the preacher takes;
Thy tender, condescending strain awakes;
Unfolds the oracle to thee reveal’d;
Proclaims Himself the’ anointed Prophet seal’d;
Heaven’s holy Messenger to teach the poor,
To heal the sick, the wounded soul to cure;
To preach to captive spirits glad release;
Give blindness sight, and mourning misery peace,
To set the slave from galling fetters free;
To sound the trump of holy jubilee;
Recall the alien to his long-lost home;
And show the’ accepted year, the day of blessing, come.
He ceased: yet still the listening audience hung
In solemn silence on the Preacher’s tongue;
Still on their ears his soothing accents fell,
As gushing waters from salvation’s well.
Absorb’d they stood, and view’d, with fix’d surprise.
His form, his face, till on their wondering eyes
Meek Mary’s Son, their own compatriot, rose,
All gaze astonish’d : some his words oppose:
In doubt, in petulance, require the sign,
The proof miraculous, of power Divine;
Offended, question whence his wisdom came,
Train’d, like themselves, in humble rank the same.
With meek reproof their envious words he met;
But when did envy stern revenge forget?
With sudden wrath their frenzied bosoms burn’d;
Fierce on his mild, majestic form they turn’d,
And dared to violate its passive grace,
Nor fear’d the day, nor fear’d the sacred place,
Nor fear’d the Name their lips profan’d; but, loud,
A clamorous, furious, fierce, ungovern’d crowd
Rush’d with their Victim forth, in murderous aim,
To blast at once his doctrine and his name.
Up the steep mountain’s side they urged their flight,
And headlong from its drear and dizzy height
The Man they scorn’d in impious purpose threw,
But he, impassive, from their grasp withdrew;
Left them, in impotence of wrath, to feel
The persecutor’s disappointed zeal;
While he, sublime, his glorious path pursued,
And turn’d from zealot rage to bless the multitude.
Clothed with the eloquence of truth, with power,
Unmanifest till this decisive hour.
Forth from the walks of men Messiah came,
His kingdom’s opening glories to proclaim,
To show the long predicted season nigh.
The reign of grace, the final monarchy.
The Son of man prepared his rule to take,
To wield that sceptre which shall bend, or break,
Or scourged, or saved, all nations to its sway,
And make the prostrate universe obey.
He spake of power: his listening audience heard,
Hung with exulting transport on the word,
And fondly, by their earth-born fancies led,
Again beheld the crown on David’s head;
Beheld his promised Son the throne ascend;
Saw suppliant nations at his footstool bend ;
Jerusalem a conquer’d world control,
The tide of glory from her mountains roll,
Her lion standards wave o’er every land,
Earth’s gather’d tribes her warlike hosts command;
Saw distant realms in love or fear submit,
And even imperial Rome beneath her feet.
But not for Him the hostile standard waves;
Not his the retinue of sceptred slaves;
Nor tributary nations at his feet
Pour Ophir’s gold, or Saba’s spices sweet.
His kingdom not from earth its glory takes;
The hallow’d heart his lowly throne he makes;
He bids Humility his way prepare,
And contrite Mourning, and repentant Prayer
But earth-born souls that holy rule decry,
Nor feel nor ask celestial energy,
Nor hear Messiah urge his one command,
Nor apprehend his Spirit’s reign at hand.
Nor view his glory but with eyes of sense,
Reject the rugged path of penitence,
The real bliss for shadowy hopes resign,
And, proud, refuse the Messenger Divine.
Yet some there were who Wisdom’s call obey’d;
Whom fear restrain’d not, nor false hopes betray’d,
Who left the vain, the worldly, and the proud,
And, meek disciples, to the Master bow’d.
To them he loved to teach his secret will.
With heavenly truth their simple minds to fill.
Them did he train his easy yoke to bear,
His hallow’d cross, his glorious crown to share.
From them his chosen witnesses he took:
Taught them the world’s contemptuous smile to brook,
And trample on its frown. To them he show’d
The light that from incarnate Godhead flow’d.
To them display’d his miracles of power;
With them conversed at midnight’s silent hour;
His kingdom’s keys into their hands consign’d;
Endued with power to bind or loose mankind;
The Gospel’s sacred sanctions to proclaim,
To preach salvation through Messiah’s name;
Through every nation bear the joyful sound;
Bid every echo waft the blessing round;
To all mankind the glorious tidings show.
Till wide as Adam’s guilt the streams of mercy flow.
To these, to all, like them, who meekly sought,
Celestial truth sublime Messiah taught.
He show’d the Deity, all perfect, high,
A Spirit, yet, with ever- searching eye,
Open on human hearts, and asking there
Intensest worship, heeding not the prayer
That hangs unfelt upon the lips, the knee
Bow’d long and frequent in hypocrisy;
But meeting with parental grace, with love,
Earth models from its Prototype above;
The lowly penitent, the suppliant child,
The wo-worn wanderer, in deserts wild,
Distilling silent tears, or urging, sweet,
Faith’s filial claims, before his mercy seat;—
Effusing soft on these celestial peace,
Commanding Sorrow’s stormy wind to cease;
According to the voice of prayer and love,
The blissful presence of the heavenly Dove
To screen from danger near, and teach to rise
On strengthen’d pinions to the sunny skies.
He taught, who gave to man his wondrous mind,
Its high prerogative of life, design’d
To soar sublime, when heaven in smoke decays,
When mountains melt, and rocks eternal blaze.
He told its awful destiny, reveal’d
The judgment hour, when earth’s dark womb shall yield
Long-buried myriads up, and give the slain
Back to the broad bright eye of heaven again,
To meet dissolving worlds, to view the fire
Feeding sublime on Nature’s funeral pyre,
The throne upraised in boundless space, the light
In awful splendours emanating bright
From Him whose smile is bliss, — his brow, severe,
The darkest vision of distracting fear.
He told, who, in that dread, decisive hour,
In terrible magnificence of power,
Shall on that dazzling judgment throne preside
Of gather’d nations, in resistless tide
Toward that tribunal borne, as surges sweep,
Impetuous, o’er the bosom of the deep:
Of angels there, his ministers of grace,
Ordain’d the severed multitudes to place
On either hand, their just award to hear, —
The joyous welcome, or the doom of fear.
He told of glory’s heirs on thrones of light,
As suns resplendent in that region bright.
He told, — ah! to what tortured, trembling heart,
What startled ear, shall reach that word? — “Depart!”
He told of outcast sinners, in his ire,
Dismiss’d to flames of ever-burning fire,
Condemn’d, in anguish of intense despair,
The’ undying worm’s corrosive tooth to bear;
With fiends accursed in deepening shades to dwells
Unbless’d intruders on the haunts of hell.
O wondrous scene! great day of doom and dread!
As stars retire when ocean’s emerald bed
Yields up the sun, with golden glory crown’d,
To bathe in light creation’s ample round,
So fades, before thy all-absorbing blaze.
The transient splendour of inferior days.
O wondrous Man, endow’d with powers sublime!
On the dark obsequies of Death and Time
Destined to look and live; ordain’d to rise
By quickening, still expanding energies,
Into the infinite of bliss; to know
Unmeasured depths of unimagined wo;
To sink, remediless, to gulfs profound,
Or circle heaven, on still ascending round
Of still enlarging thought, from height to height,
In endless progress toward the Infinite.
Thou, whom the vast, the terrible can move,
Who start’st from anguish, canst be won by love,
Who, conscious, own’st a monitor within,
Yet lingerest still, the slave of siren sin;
Thou, who hast lodged within thy fluttering breast,
A strange, unknown, mysterious, deathless guest,
Whose, wondrous destiny ’tis thine to share,
O hear its pleadings now! one only care,
One work alone, thy anxious thoughts employ,
Improve its high capacities for joy.
One only aim engross thy wakeful mind,
The highest point of proffer’d bliss to find.
Let fear, let hope, earth’s phantom shades, forego,
Grasp thou the substance, flee eternal wo,
Spring from the deathless worm’s tremendous coil,
And sow thy harvest in a heavenly soil.
From themes by saint or seraph unessay’d, —
From heaven in terror or in smiles array’d.
From earth to conflagration given, from man
As scatter’d chaff before the winnowing fan
Driven to the quenchless flame, or housed on high.
Meet harvest for the heavenly granary; —
From themes like these, Messiah stoop’d to teach
In all the sweetness of familiar speech,
Whate’er the waiting multitude required,
Who own’d his wisdom, and his words admired,
Pursued him to the desert mountain’s side,
Or flock’d around, while, from the glassy tide,
His solemn tones to listening thousands came,
Who gladly heard, and wide diffused his fame.
Himself a Man, and conversant below
With every character of human wo,
His spirit strung to Sorrow’s deepest tone,
And every chord of sympathy his own,
To every sigh, to every sound of grief,
His ear inclined; his hand prepared relief
For every pang the wounded heart can bear,
From shafts of anguish, or from thorns of care;
Drew forth, with lenient skill, the rankling dart,
Then with celestial balsam soothed the smart;
Physician kind as wise, and prompt to save
Affliction’s meanest child, who came his aid to crave.
Behold the Light from heaven! Sublime he stands,
His kindling glance the listening crowd commands;
From earth’s circumference, from heaven above,
The hallow’d Preacher gathers signs of love,
Draws strains of wisdom from the blooming flower,
Basking and glittering its sweet sunny hour,
Luxuriant, at his feet; from birds on high,
Fanning with buoyant wing the trackless sky;
From soft descending rains, from ether, bright,
Diffusing wide the sun’s supernal light,
Meet emblem of Beneficence Divine,
Whose cheering- beams on every creature shine.
Yes! ’tis Messiah’s voice! His lips declare
That God in heaven extends a Father’s care,
A Father’s tenderness, a Father’s hand,
To man, a stranger in earth’s pilgrim land;
Upholds and guides him in the doubtful way,
Nor leaves his simplest, meanest charge to stray,
No storms, no snares by him unseen arise;
Past, present, future, meet his searching eyes;
His Providence controls, arranges all;
Nor lilies grow, nor birds unheeded fall;
But humblest flowers that deck the field proclaim
In lovely beauty their Creator’s Name;
And swallows, guided in their buoyant flight,
Are taught by Him to steer their course aright.
Yes, showers from Him descend; his sunshine glows;
He paints the tulip, scents the blushing rose;
And shall He thus the withering grass array,
Yet leave his living blossoms to decay?
To simplest birds extend his guardian care,
Yet turn reluctant from his children’s prayer?
Far be the doubtful thought; the Saviour’s voice
Bids Faith look up, and holy Hope rejoice;
For God, in wisdom, o’er his works presides,
In pitying love his erring offspring guides,
Tempers the blast, the rugged path prepares,
Sustains their footsteps, numbers all their hairs;
Life’s real bliss in measured store supplies;
Its fancied goods, substantial miseries,
Or blindly, or perversely ask’d, denies.
O, ye who tread the tearful vale of life
With toilsome step, through scenes of care and strife,
For whom no landscape spreads its varied hues
In flowery fragrance, fresh with sparkling dews,
Whose fitful skies the frequent meteor shrouds,
Whose sunbeams darken in descending clouds,
Who oft, perplex’d, alone, your way pursue, —
O, these are words of peace, of joy to you!
Go, child of sorrow! whom the grieving thorn,
The prickling briers that throng the waste, have torn;
Whose bleeding feet sad signs of travel show,
O’er rude, rough rocks, whence bitter waters flow;—
Go, in his truth, his promised care, confide,
Beneath his wings thy trembling spirit hide.
Yet on thy lonely path his light shall rise,
His smile allure thee to the opening skies.
Know, too, thy mingled cup his hand prepares,
And while thou drink’st it, he thy suffering shares;
In all thy griefs, his love, his wisdom see,
Nor cease to think of Him who wept, who bled for thee.
But while, on highest themes, Messiah’s speech
Discoursed of wisdom Heaven alone could teach,
While words of peace his balmy lips distill’d,
And joy and hope his listening audience fill’d,
With mildest grace he temper’d sacred awe,
And taught the stainless majesty of law;
Enforced its sanctions on the inmost soul,
Its unrelinquish’d claims, its stern control
O’er thoughts, affections, purposes, its power,
No fleeting phantom of the passing hour,
But firm, enduring as that changeless Name
From whom, bright impress of Himself, it came:
Its substance, Love, by love alone fulfill’d,
Love on the pure, regenerate mind instill’d,
Love fix’d supreme on Heaven, diffusing wide
O’er earth its copious, rich, redundant tide;
All unrestrain’d, to enemies or friends,
As soft from heaven the genial shower descends;
Or light, expansive, vital influence spreads;
Or God, on all mankind, his gifts impartial sheds.
Messiah taught; but not by words alone,
Bright from himself that law reflected shone.
His stainless nature all its light display’d:
Nor taint of ill, nor dimming breath, nor shade,
Obscured the beams of Truth’s effulgent blaze,
Which from that lucid mirror pour’d its rays.
His pure obedience all its claims sustain’d,
And righteousness in sovereign splendour reign’d
Inviolate in flesh, and triumph’d there,
In Him who deign’d that mortal frame to wear,
Which erst its rule contemn’d; in him complete
The moral code, the sacred symbol meet.
Whate’er the ceremonial sign implied,
Or law enjoin’d; fulfill’d and magnified,
In Him their perfect consummation gain’d,
In Him the highest end of heaven attain’d.
While thus the Preacher heavenly wisdom taught,
While thus his life with every grace was fraught,
While, touch’d with mortal griefs, he frequent wept,
On mountain heights the long, lone vigil kept:
Then, from the solemn secresies of prayer,
Pass’d forth to bless the multitude, and share
With friends beloved affection’s kindred flame,
And, man with men, to bear a brother’s name;
While thus with mortal sympathies endued,
Conform’d to Adam’s whole similitude,
A suffering man, he stoop’d to toils and wo,
And meekly bore a servant’s form below;
While, lowly, thus, life’s tearful path he trod,
And veil’d the splendours of incarnate God,
Yet, through that shrine, full oft, what glory broke!
What power the present Deity bespoke!
Man asks a sign from heaven: behold, his word
With purple beverage crowns the sumptuous board,
Material nature feels the touch Divine,
And sparkling water glows to generous wine,
The rite himself ordain’d his presence cheers,
His glory at the nuptial feast appears.
Man asks a sign: nor Heaven that sign denies:
Lo, Jesus comes, and withering sickness flies;
Fierce, frenzied Fever quits her burning bed,
And strengthless Palsy lifts his languid head;
Light, holy Light, illumes the sightless eyes.
The lame leap up in thankful ecstasies,
And deaf, dumb fiends, by him rebuked, retire
To central realms of ever burning fire,
Or seek amid earth’s desert wilds, unbless’d,
That long-lost bliss of rebel angels, — rest.
Man asks a sign: thou wildly rolling sea,
Confess the present power of Deity!
Behold yon straining vessel! O’er her crew
Descends the menacing billow; sad, they view
Destruction in the deep. Who comes, with tread
Majestic, o’er the yawning surges’ head ?
Who walks from wave to wave, and bids the storm
Subside to stillest peace? That mortal Form,
Which met erewhile the hurtling blasts of night,
In pleading prayer upon the mountain’s height;
Which, ere soft evening’s purple shadows spread.
Around its base admiring thousands fed;
Fed by creative power: ‘Tis He who trod
The waves of chaos, when the voice of God
Call’d order from confusion; when the light,
His own pure emblem, sprung from deepest night
At his Omnific Word: ’tis He who spread
The waves of ocean o’er their coral bed;
Who binds them in the hollow of his hand,
And stays their fury by his rein of sand.
Ask ye a sign of hell, of earth, of heaven,
Of death, of the dark sepulchre? ‘Tis given:
Behold yon wither’d flower, in opening bloom
Snapp’d from its slender stem: funereal gloom
Hangs o’er the couch of early Beauty: Grief
Pours its wild wail in vain: — intense, yet brief,
Have been the yearnings of parental love, the tear
Of tenderest hope, of ecstasy, of fear:
Wide yawns the grave, insatiate for its prey.
Which earths their treasure ere descending day.
Stay, ye who pour the sordid wail in vain;
Ye, whose torn bosoms inly bleed, again
Bend o’er your child in death; mark those closed eyes
Unsealing from their mortal sleep! “Arise !”
Saith He whose word is power. Behold, she wakes!
Once more its shrine the unhoused spirit takes;
Parental love adores the wondrous grace,
And folds the boon of Heaven fast in its fond embrace.
Whence moves that sad procession? Whither tend
Those mourners, and their charge? Ah! toward the end
Of every mortal journey! On that bier
Lies stretch’d the widow’s hope! Now dim and drear
Her last, last beam of sunlight sets in death:
With desolate tears, and deep, suspended breath,
She tells her griefs to Heaven, while sad and slow
She follows to her son’s dark home below.
What stranger voice in soothing accents speaks?
“Refrain thine eyes from weeping!” From thy cheeks
Dry the salt tears, sad mourner! For that sound
Breathes from the breast of sympathy; thy wound
His lenient balm shall heal; behold him stand,
Arrested by thy sorrows! His command
Restrains Corruption’s silent spell, revives
The functions of extinguish’d life, and gives
Back to thy widow’d arms thine age’s stay,
And from insatiate Death wrests his too early prey.
Come, ye who seek Messiah’s witness, come
With the sad sisters, from their sorrowing home,
To meet the Master nigh: amid the band
Of troubled friends, of weeping kindred, stand,
While Martha pours her plaint; while Mary’s tears
Bedew his feet beloved; while on his ears
Fall the deep groans of hearts by anguish press’d;
Hearts whom his friendship cherish’d; whom his breast
Received to kindliest love; with whom he shared
Sweet converse, and the kind repast, prepared
To renovate exhausted strength; and sought
Refreshing interchange of holy thought;
Life’s purest cup of blessing deign’d to taste,
And Wisdom’s seal on sacred Friendship placed.
Come ye! for here the Master stands and weeps.
His friend is dead; beloved Lazarus sleeps.
He weeps; he groans in spirit; o’er his soul
Strange waves of sympathy, of sorrow, roll;
See ye, unmoved, that sight? ‘Tis human wo
That bids those gushing tides of trouble flow;
‘Tis nature, struggling in the pangs of death,
That hangs her burthen on his labouring breath.
Come ye, and see! For not to grief alone
Is given this hour of wonder: yon rude stone
Hides the deep-cavern’d vault, where, lowly laid,
The dead sleep softly in sepulchral shade.
Since three revolving suns, in silence, there
Hath slept the Friend, the Brother. Ye who share
A friend’s, a brother’s sympathies; who own
A nature subjected to death; who groan
In terror of his sceptre; now draw near.
Behold anticipated conquest here!
Behold that Form majestic! View those eyes,
Those hands, uplifted to the opening skies!
O bend the knee in silence! Let thine ear
Confess the present Deity, and fear!
Adore in prostrate worship; while, aloud,
His voice, reverberant through the trembling crowd,
Cries, “Lazarus, come forth!” Lo, Lazarus hears;
Emerging from the charnel vault appears,
Lifts to the Master’s form his lighten’d eye,
And hails the Life, the Resurrection nigh;
Springs forth to clasp his feet, and lives to show
That God indeed is manifest below.
Messiah spake in parables; he taught
Counsels of covert wisdom: works he wrought
Of mystic import; glorious, great, benign,
Yet shadowing mightier energy Divine.
Man’s feeble frame his quickening impulse feels,
Man’s strengthless soul remedial mercy heals.
He speaks, and palsied sickness, vigorous, lives;
But who, in plenitude of power, forgives
The sinner’s uncomputed debt? ‘Tis He
Whom fulness of Divine philanthropy
Drew down from heaven, to tread the vale of wo,
That grace to man might unimpeded flow:
‘Tis He, Emmanuel, who, in mortal shrine,
Exerts his own prerogative Divine:
‘Tis He, omniscient, whose all- searching eye
Reads the deep grief, regards the contrite sigh,
Discerns the’ incipient faith, which longs to claim
Its filial interest in that tenderest Name,
To orphan weakness dear. ‘Tis He, whose word,
Soft, in the sorrowing spirit’s silence heard,
Dispels the gloom of long-impending- night,
And bids the new creation blaze with light.
Thus, in his works, his sovereign power display’d,
Nature and grace Messiah’s word obeyed,
Creation own’d subjection to his hand,
And wildest elements at his command
Hush’d their misrule to silence. To the frame
Of miserable man his virtue came
Restorative. ‘Twas pity, join’d with power.
Hell antedated in his eye the hour
Of still severer vengeance; Death, dethroned,
His dread antagonist in Jesus own’d,
Dark Hades’ realm the incarnate Godhead knew,
And Heaven itself proclaim’d his record true.
At length, Jehovah, in his shrine reveal’d,
Own’d by the Spirit, by the Father seal’d,
By signs stupendous proved the Anointed One,
The promised Saviour, the Eternal Son; —
At length, his precepts given, his doctrines taught.
His will declared, his works of wonder wrought,
His blight exemplar to his Church display’d,
His kingdom’s secret, sure foundations laid; —
At length, Messiah told his love’s design,
Disclosed the mystery of Grace Divine,
His fast-approaching hour of grief reveal’d;
Announced himself the guiltless Victim seal’d
To meet the avenging sword; the Father’s will,
An unreluctant Sufferer, to fulfil;
The ransom of a world condemned to pay,
To bear the curse from all mankind away,
To drink unmix’d the bitter cup of wo,
Sustain the conflict none may share or know;
To expiate sin’s offence by sacred blood,
To struggle in temptation’s stormy flood,
To languish, shorn of Heaven’s all-cheering lights
To meet the frown of Justice Infinite,
To die beneath the stern Avenger’s rod,
A mortal Sufferer, a triumphant God,
Victorious from the grasp of Death to rise,
Bear back his palm of conquest to the skies.
To reascend his Father’s throne, and there
For ever make his ransom’d Church his care.
His hour, his bitter hour of grief, drew nigh;
His straiten’d soul, in prayerful agony,
Perceived its dread approach. Full oft he chose
The hours by nature given to soft repose
For solemn vigil on the mountain’s height,
Where deep, unbroken Silence, and dim Night,
Witness’d, alone, his fervours. Now, to share
Their Master’s glory, and to bend in prayer
With him before the Eternal, he invites
The favour’d three in whom his soul delights.
Pensive, yet pleas’d to share his grace, they climb
Rude Tabor’s rocky height, and there, sublime,
Gaze on the ample heavens, whose concave bright
Glows, a pure canopy of circling lights
They gaze, adore; their willing souls would rise,
But sleep steals softly o’er their closing eyes,
Exhausted nature asks the kind release,
And sweet he slumbers on whose soul is peace.
Not so the Master; he, nor sleep, nor rest
Entices; prostrate on the mountain’s breast
He lies, in pleading prayer: his soul, intense,
Breathes thoughts unutter’d forth. Omnipotence,
In its eternal altitude, till now,
Such supplication heard not. On his brow
Hangs the cold damp of midnight; and his tears
Mingle with drops wrung out by griefs and fears
From the sad spirit’s shrine. O mournful sight!
Ye stars! ye angels! on your thrones of light,
Veil your bright orbs in shade!
Lo, sudden streams,
Of purer lustre than intensest beams
Shot from the central sun, transpierce his frame.
His glistering raiment, his pure eye of flame,
Bespeak his pristine Majesty. Again
He looks triumphant down on grief and pain.
Heaven strengthens for its conflicts, not removes –
The Eternal Father owns the Son he loves:
Celestial visitants descend to cheer,
Yet hold discourse on death and suffering near;
And Moses and Elijah, from the skies,
Anticipate the accomplish’d Sacrifice;
To Him surrender every sacred claim,
Absorb their glories in Messiah’s name,
Acknowledge law and prophecy complete
In Him their end, their fount of radiance, meet;
The servants to the Son their rule resign.
And, reverent, hail the holier Light Divine.
Supine, unwakeful, yet that glorious light
Flash’d on the frail disciples’ drowsy sight;
With startling fear the wondrous scene they view,
Yet still their Lord and still the strangers knew,
And felt the present heaven, yet fail’d to find
Fit speech to meet the amazement of the mind;
Till deep imbosom’d in the o’ershadowing cloud,
Their awe-struck souls in reverent worship bowed;
While, fearful, from the excelling glory broke
That Voice of Words, whose solemn sanction spoke
The Father’s love ineffable; his grace
Reflected only from Messiah’s face;
His wisdom by Messiah’s lips convey’d,
Messiah’s law their rule eternal made.
It pass’d; no more the dazzling glory shone,
Nor sound was heard: the wondering three, alone,
In strange amazement, with their Lord remain’d.
As Moses on his beaming brow retain’d
Reflected splendours of celestial light,
So, on their souls that mystic vision bright
Its hallow’d impress left, and oft, sublime,
Effused its radiance o’er the mists of time,
Effulgent to the eye of faith appear’d,
And holy hope’s aspiring ardours cheer’d,
Disclosed the brightness of that form renew’d.
When, rising in their Lord’s similitude,
His loved disciples shall his glory share,
And, suffering here with him, his crown of conquest wear.
As he, who erst, on Horeb’s sacred height,
Beheld the bush in flaming splendours bright;
Who near, and nearer still, and nearer drew,
In strange surprise, that wondrous sight to view;
Who heard, transpierced with awe, the Voice Divine
Announce Jehovah in the mystic sign;
Who, reverent, with unsandall’d footsteps trod
The hallow’d precincts of the present God;
Then veil’d his face, nor dared that sight to see,
Afraid to meet the blaze of Deity.
So, mantled deep with holy shame, with awe
Chastening her step, would Faith, adoring, draw
Toward that strange scene, that dread, surpassing sight
Where Glory, Terror, Justice, Grace unite.
Where Jesus consummates the Will Divine,
Where flaming wrath and bleeding love combine,
Where law, inexorable law, demands,
Transgression’s forfeit; where the Victim stands
In measureless infinitude of grace,
Vicarious Sufferer for the sinful race,
Sustaining, agonized, in mortal shrine,
The frown of Heaven, the curse of Wrath Divine=
With her of Bethany, who, grateful, pour’d
Her odorous unguent, when the social board
Her much-loved Master graced; with Mary’s sighs,
Her tears, presentient of his agonies,
Her meek remembrance of his grace, her flow,
Of love uufeign’d, of undissembled wo;
With her whose single bliss, whose centred choice,
Was bland instruction from the Masters voice;
With her who felt the joy of sin forgiven,
Act saw his sufferings track her path to heaven;
With her meek Gratitude would lowly weep,
His sacred feet in tears of anguish steep;
Prepare the balm of holiest love, and shed
Its fragrant unction o’er the Saviour’s head;
Bid hallow’d praise, with pure affections blend,
Kneel at his feet, and bless the sinner’s Friend,
With prayerful sighs that waft the soul above,
Embalm the memory of that suffering Love
Which sanctified the cold and quiet grave,
And slept in death a deathless world to save.
Incarnate Saviour! holy Victim! led
To unresisting slaughter! who shall tread
Thy painful path along that thorny road
Track’d by thy tears, thy streaming blood that flow’d.
Crimsoning the sterile waste? retrace thy grief
For proud Jerusalem ? her unbelief,
Her scorn of thee, and of that sacred lore
Thou would’st have taught her, ere, her season o’er,
Her sun went out eclipsed? rehearse the love
Which mark’d the cowering eagle from above,
And proffer’d, mild, a soft and gentle shade
From its fierce beak of blood, which would have made
Its broad, bright wings a shield from danger nigh,
And, ere the foe pounced, ravenous, from on high,
Have screen’d her hapless little ones, and spread
A covert o’er the undefended head?
Yes; Pity wept, o’er Salem’s falling state,
And prescient Wisdom told the early date
Of that stern hour, when Heaven’s avenging blade
Should gleam unscabbarded, in ashes laid;
When low her desecrated shrine should lie,
Deserted by indignant Deity;
When God, in wrath retributive awake,
Should vengeance for rejected mercies take,
Inflict the dread anathema decreed,
Messiah’s cause in burning judgment plead,
Offending Israel to the winds disperse,
To bear the deep, the long-protracted curse,
Dry, sever’d branches from the sacred root,
Nor crown’d with foliage, nor enrich’d with fruit,
Wide scatter’d o’er earth’s dreary wastes to lie,
Sear’d sport of storms beneath a wintry sky;
Till Heaven, again propitious, kindly pour
The genial dews, the vital sap, restore,
And reingraff rejected Israel’s shoots,
On Abraham’s stock to bear unwithering fruits.
Fain humble Love would, sorrowing, tread the ground,
(But O, ’tis holy where His steps are found!)
Where gentle babes their meek hosannas pour’d.
And Israel’s King in joyous strains adored.
Fain with the few the parting banquet share,
Hear his bless’d lips his last command declare,
Receive the sacramental pledge, and take
The mystic symbols for the Master’s sake;
With listening ear his pleading prayer receive,
With those who loved, and fear’d to lose him, grieve,
In holy sympathy with them rejoice,
In hope, ere long, that his reviving voice
Should reassure their drooping hearts, and tell
Of glorious triumph o’er the powers of hell.
O’er scenes like these no plume of fancy flies,
No vagrant muse frequents these mysteries;
But Faith, with chasten’d step, may humbly go
Even to the steep whence Kedron’s waters flow,
Amid Gethsemane’s dark shadows wait
The awful issue of that hour of fate,
When heaven and hell in fearful conflict met,
Urged the deep groan, the agony, the sweat,
Whose crimson’d drops bedew’d the’ ensanguined ground,
When praying, pleading, wrestling, prostrate, found,
While trembling flesh from wrathful vengeance shrank,
Its bitterest dregs the guiltless Victim drank,
Embraced the awful Father’s righteous rod,
And languish’d, dark, beneath the frown of God
Yes; Faith may follow, even from thence, and hear
The Man of Griefs condenm’d by coward Fear,
Behold the Majesty of Truth, descry,
The judge retiring from the Prisoner’s eye,
Too weak to bear the light, too mean to stand
And shield the injured from Oppression’s hand;
May view contumely, insult, hate, and scorn,
The robe of mockery, the scourge, the thorn,
The pallid brow, the lacerated cheek,
The tearful eye, the mien sublimely meek,
The lofty bearing of triumphant mind
O’er taunt and torture, earth and hell, combined,
The grandeur of incarnate God, reveal’d
Even while his judgment darkling Envy seal’d.
Go, tread with trembling foot the dolorous steep,
With Salem’s daughters smite thy breast and weep.
Behold the Victim forth to slaughter led;
Dark rolls the tempest round his sacred head;
See rudely on his bleeding shoulder laid
The rugged cross. O veil thy face, dismay’d,
Nor dare on Golgotha’s dread scene to gaze!
For lo, the sun in darkness shrouds his rays;
Astonish’d earth with trembling terror shakes ;
Beneath its load affrighted Calvary quakes;
And yawning graves, and sullen thunders, loud
Proclaim Heaven’s wrath, for Him in anguish bow’d
Beneath the world’s accumulated curse,
Amazement of the pondering universe!
Yes; there the meek mysterious Sufferer bleeds!
Pang urges pang, and groan to groan succeeds,
Fierce bulls of Bashan furious round him close,
And ravenous dogs their wrathful rage oppose,
Wild on his prey the ramping lion roars,
Its purple current life retiring pours,
Impervious Heaven returns his piteous moan,
Messiah drinks the dreadful draught alone;
Nor vents his loud, his last expiring cry,
Nor yields to Death the shrine of Deity,
Till Love’s stupendous ransom price is paid,
For guilt, the free, the full atonement made;
Till round his cross the rays of glory meet,
And Justice owns the mighty task complete.
“’Tis finish’d!” Hark! that rending groan! those cries!
That voice attests the’ accomplish’d sacrifice;
The prison’d spirit quits its mortal shrine,
Surrender’d to paternal Grace Divine;
Death, sullen, stern, tremendous, grasps his prey;
Hell, earth, and heaven, recoil in dread dismay;
With throes convulsive frighted Nature heaves;
The mountains tremble, and the dark rock cleaves ;
A mystic Presence fills the sacred shrine;
Bright altar fires ‘mid wreathing incense shine;
A mystic Power, at that expiring cry,
Reveals the dread abode of Deity,
Asunder rends the deep- impending vail;
While hovering angels, lost in wonder, hail
The’ Eternal on his bright cherubic throne,
Propitious through that priceless offering shown,
‘Tis done! the beams of reconciling grace
Flow unobstructed from Jehovah’s face;
The dreadful penalty, the Death, is paid,
Transgression’s curse, on Him, its Victim, laid,
Is heaved from guilty man. This wondrous hour
Messiah, in omnipotence of power,
Tramples the direful serpent’s venom’d head,
Descends in blood-stain’d vesture to the dead,
Dooms in his own dark realm man’s mortal foe,
Dim, dreary Death, to final overthrow;
Breaks from a captive world Apollyon’s yoke,
Bids hell recoil beneath his vengeful stroke,
Prepares the path of life ‘mid Hades’ gloom,
And triumphs in the precincts of the tomb.
O wondrous conquest of unbounded love!
O depth unscann’d by angel minds above!
Nor mark’d on earth, where dimming flesh and sense
Veil the dread footsteps of Omnipotence.
Yet earth its mystic sympathy displays,
In awe and wonder Gentile legions gaze,
Behold the dire portents, and trembling own
Messiah in that last expiring groan; —
That groan which vibrates through sepulchral gloom,
Bursts the dark barriers of the silent tomb,
And calls the saintly dead from quiet sleep,
Their vigils at that solemn hour to keep,
To share the triumphs of his glorious rise,
And pass, his earliest trophies, to the skies.
Redemption’s price is paid: in captive chains
Not long dread Death the Lord of life detains,
Nor Hades’ realm the conquering spirit holds,
Not long his flesh the gloomy grave enfolds.
His quickening power revives the sleeping shrine,
Reanimates with energy Divine;
His own right hand the living temple rears,
Its wondrous frame once more sublime appears;
Jehovah owns his coeternal Son,
Attests Messiah’s crown of conquest won;
Attests the Covenant Sacrifice complete,
And bids creation worship at his feet.
The waning moon toward western skies retired,
Morn’s earliest blush, dim, darkling twilight fired;
Receding stars before the orient ray
Stole softly into deeper shades awa ;
Earth’s verdant breast a humid veil o’erspread;
And silence reign’d profound. To seek the dead,
To pour Affection’s soft and sacred tear,
To heave the sorrowing sigh o’er Friendship’s bier,
To seek the Master in his lone retreat,
Anoint his corpse, and kiss his mangled feet,
The Marys, weeping, sought that garden’s shade,
Where, late entomb’d, their loftiest hopes were laid.
‘Twas the third morn; the Sabbath’s sacred day
Had pass’d in solitary sighs away;
Sleep, balmy sleep, their wakeful eylids fled,
And restless thought held converse with the dead;
Hope’s beauteous iris deepening clouds o’ercast,
And whispering Memory told of blessings past.
With pensive step they gain’d the sacred ground;
But all was wonder; — fill’d with grief profound
They saw the cavern’s dark recess display ‘d;
But Death’s pale Victim there no longer laid.
A stranger guard, in glistering vesture bright,
Sat on the massive stone his princely might
Had rolled from that sepulchral vault away.
His eye is flame; yet mild its lightnings play;
Mild on the meek, yet terrible as death
On the stern sons of pride, whose quivering breath
Flutters upon the pallid lip; whose shield
Falls from the nerveless arm, though taught to wield
The weightiest sword in battle, and to bear
Rome’s blood-stain’d eagles through the ranks of war.
How poor earth’s prowess to celestial might!
Yet Heaven defends the weak; that angel bright
Pours kind and gentle greeting on the ear
Of those who seek their Lord; dispels their fear
With glorious tidings of Messiah’s rise;
In trembling haste, with strange and glad surprise,
At his command their sorrowing friends they seek,
And words of wonder in amazement speak;
Words in amazement heard, yet disbelieved;
They mourn’d and wept, nor yet the truth received.
And, strangely dark, nor call’d they yet to mind
The promise by the Master left behind,
Again their solitary hearts to cheer,
To chase their griefs, nor leave them orphans here,
To rise, the victory of his cross to show,
And then triumphant to his glory go.
Yet, anxious, some the scene of mystery soughtj
Muse on the tale by trembling transport brought,
But find not whom they seek; nor long remain.
But turn, perplex’d, to doubt and grieve again.
Not so sad Magdalene: alas! she weeps,
Spite of an angel’s voice; and sorrowing keeps
Her silent watch beside the lonely cave,
Her hallow ‘d Master’s consecrated grave,
Nor earthly nor unearthly fears can move
Her steadfast purpose of unchanging love;
Her steadfast love receives its rich reward,—
Admitted first to see, to own, her Lord;
His well-known voice, his kindly glance to meet,
To hail his glad return, to clasp his feet,
To bear the message of his grace; to feel
In her sad breast his wonted power to heal;
Those kindest, gentlest, strangest words to hear,
That ever love breathed soft on human ear: —
“Go, tell my brethren, tell my sorrowing friends,
Messiah to his Father’s throne ascends;
His Father, God; their God and Father too.
Go, bid them haste their risen Lord to view.”
The Lord is risen! Nor Magdalene alone
His much-loved form beheld. He seeks his own,
His sad disciples in their hopeless grief,
And calms their fears, and chides their unbelief.
Amid the troubled, tearful train he stands,
Shows them his wounded side, his feet, his hands,
Breathes on their souls his peace, renews their joy,
Bids them for him their hallow’d lives employ,
His purchased flock as watchful pastors keep,
‘Midst sterile deserts seek the wandering sheep;
Far from the wolf in folded safety hide,
Through devious paths with caution’d wisdom guide;
Then, for the sheep, his mortal suffering share,
With him the cross in groans and anguish bear;
Till, in his glorious power reveal’d again,
They rise to share his everlasting reign;
With him, chief Shepherd, oh his throne sit down,
And from his hand receive the bright, unwithering crown.
The work is done, the great Atonement seal’d,
The veil is rent, the throne in heaven reveal’d!
The cherub shrine with lambent glory burns,
The Son triumphant to his seat returns,
The everlasting Priest, with blood Divine,
Prepares to consecrate the eternal shrine,
Bright, in his sacerdotal robes, to bear
His own oblation to the altar there;
To purify the sacred things above,
To pour the all-prevailing prayer of love,
To bid the ever-fragrant incense rise,
Perfuming his accepted sacrifice;
Before the throne, in Mediatorial grace,
To live, the Saviour of the ransom’d race.
Yes! He who, ere the streams of being sprang,
Ere morning stars creation’s anthems sang,
Dwelt with the Father in essential light,
Eternal Efflux of his splendours bright.
He, man’s pollution purged, his state resumes,
His pristine majesty in heaven assumes;
Sits by Jehovah’s side sublimely down,
Receives the radiant mediatorial crown,
The sceptre of eternal rule, the sword
Of bright and burning blade. Jehovah’s word
Waits to proclaim Messiah’s sovereign sway:
Be still, O earth! Ye heavens, that word obey!
Ye angels, worship! Ye, whose myriad throng
For new-born nature pour’d the choral song;
Ye, who, his twice ten thousand chariots, came
When Sinai glow’d beneath his throne of flame;
Ye, who on Bethlehem’s plains descending, bright,
Eclipsed the starry fires of ebon night,
And bade the spheres in loud hosannas ring
Their earliest welcome to earth’s new-born King;
Who, ministrant, beside your Lord, were found,
In the lone, sterile desert; on the ground,
The hallow’d ground of agony, were seen
Strengthening his troubled spirit; who, serene,
Yet bright in seraph majesty, appear’d
Beside his broken sepulchre, and cheer’d
Desponding Sorrow with the blissful sound,
That He, once dead, was risen. Come, gather round,
Ye ministers of his, ye fiery flames!
Thrones, or dominions, by what mystic names
Soe’er ye pass in heaven, to Him draw nigh,
Prepare new homage for his majesty.
Come, borne on radiant wing, ye sons of might.
Bear back Messiah’s car! His throne in light
Awaits the King of glory: Heaven looks down,
Expectant, its triumphant Lord to crown.
Lo, Death and Hell, beside his trophied car,
Attest the Conqueror’s prowess. From the war,
Laden with spoils, behold him glorious come!
Lift high your emerald gates! receive Messiah home!
Lo, heaven’s empyreal heights their myriads pour!
All press to gaze, to wonder, to adore;
Nor ever, since his chamber’s beams he laid
In the deep waters, ne’er had heaven display’d
Sight so august and glorious. Downward throng,
Like cluster’d stars, the bright, the pure, the strong.
Like lightnings launch’d on midnight’s deepest gloom,
Seraphic flames in radiant phalanx come;
And soft, with holy harps, attuned to hymn
Messiah’s praise, descend sweet cherubim.
Angels, in sunlike glory, all await
To swell the Conqueror’s reascending state;
To watch his parting scene, to hear the sound
Of his last words on earth; then, circling round
To bear his bright humanity above,
Proclaim the triumphs of victorious Love,
Roll back the doors of everlasting light,
And, heralds of his majesty and might,
Before the Eternal Father’s throne proclaim
The matchless glories of the Conqueror’s name;
To show his high behest fulfill’d ; the Son,
With spoils from hell’s usurping legions won,
Ascending to his bright paternal seat,
Till, every adverse power beneath his feet,
All creatures own Messiah’s glorious sway,
And shrink in terror, or in love obey.
They throng the steep: but soft, no thunders there
Utter dread voices: through the ambient air
Glances no wing of flame. No, all is still
On sacred Olivet’s secluded hill.
Unseen, unheard, intensest watch they keep.
Hush! mortal footsteps tread the towering steep!
Silent and slow his chosen friends repair
To meet their Lord, his parting blessing share.
Lo, in their midst his well-known form appears;
He soothes their anxious hearts, dispels their fears,
Unfolds with clearer light his truth Divine,
Sends them as stars throughout the world to shine,
To preach in every land the Gospel word,
Proclaim the truth from him in secret heard.
He bids them wait the promise of his love,
The Spirit’s fiery baptism from above,
To seal, anoint, enrich with varied grace:
A Comforter, to fill the Master’s place,
To reimpress the lore his wisdom taught,
And show the wonders by Messiah wrought.
Yet not the curious wish, the fond desire,
His parting word resolves. In vain inquire
His eager, frail disciples for the hour
When Israel’s horn, renew’d in regal power,
Again shall flourish fair: that hour, unknown,
Lives in the Father’s counsels: He alone
Appoints the times, selects the seasons meet;
Man dwells in dust, a reptile at his feet.
In silence heard, beneath his kind reply,
Their earthly hopes as withering blossoms die,
No kingdom of terrestrial glory now
Messiah plants: the crown that waits his brow
Is heaven’s imperial diadem.
Even now the regal Shepherd leaves the fold!
Mark ye his look benign, his hands upraised,
His eye, as on heaven’s inmost light it gazed!
O hear his parting blessing, breathed aloud
Upon his kneeling flock!
Yon lucid cloud
Hovers a moment o’er him.
Fix’d they gaze;
But all is gone !
No fiery coursers blaze;
The herald angels viewless pass; nor sound
Is in the air, nor echo breathes around.
Mute, motionless, with lifted hands and eyes.
Wistful, impatient to transpierce the skies,
His trembling followers still astonished kneel;
The raptured awe, the holy transport, feel;
Till on their ears celestial voices break,
And forms of light their tranced senses wake: —
“Ye men of Galilee, O gaze no more!
Henceforth in heaven your glorious Lord adore!
There now he triumphs; but, when time shall end,
Illustrious, shall in flaming pomp descend,
And bear his saints to bliss.”
With silent awe
The meek disciples from the mount withdraw;
Bui prostrate first in holy worship bend;
For oft the Master did that mount ascend,
And oft its shades had heard his sacred voice;
No longer now to bid their hearts rejoice.
Yet, joyous in his triumphs, glad they go,
To listening crowds the wondrous scene to show.
To tell Jerusalem, Messiah slain
Had conquer’d Death, and risen in heaven to reign.
From earth withdrawn, he fills his throne above,
There executes his offices of love;
There the great Prophet of his Church appears;
There, as her Priest, the dazzling ephod wears;
There, as her King, controls his subject foes,
Around her walls his shadowing glory throws;
There, as her Friend, her Intercessor, lives,
And thence the sacred, sevenfold Spirit gives;
Attends her prayer, regards her deep distress,
Amid the perils of the wilderness;
Himself a sufferer once, her grief he shares,
A covert from the windy storm prepares,
Cleaves the dark sea, bids mountains sink or rise,
To lend her aid, or whelm her enemies;
For seas and mountains yield to his control,
And tempest thunders at his bidding roll.
Exalted on his mediatorial throne;
Messiah rules his Church, yet not alone:
His bride, beloved, rejoices in his sway;
Heaven’s lofty potentates his word obey
To hell the terrors of his frown descend;
Earth’s mightiest powers, on Him, their Source, depend
Its empires rise, and flourish, and decay;
Its monarchs rule, its wide-spread realms obey;
Obedient to His will, whose piercing eye
Pervades all time, and scans eternity.
In softest silence falls the vernal shower;
Reviving nature owns its genial power.
New, vital influence swells the bursting seeds;
Maternal earth her embryo blossoms feeds;
Deep strikes each tender plant its fibrous roots;
Through fostering soil the slender seedling shoots;
Its rising stem expansive juices fill;
Soft on its leaves bright sparkling drops distil.
By gentle breezes nursed, and summer skies,
The lofty oak’s incipient glories rise,
Till, broad and fair, its sheltering foliage spreads,
Delightful covert o’er a thousand heads;
The weary beasts beneath its shade repose,
When high in heaven the sultry sunbeam glows;
And blithe within its cool recesses sing
Sweet sprightly birds of every note and wing.
Majestic now, the stately forest’s pride,
Stands the firm tree, with fruitful seeds supplied
Itself an atom once, and raised to light
By suns, and showers, and gales, and dewdrops bright.
Silent and slow its gradual growth, at length
It shines in beauty, as it towers in strength.
Even so, on earth, though unobservant eyes
Nor knew, nor sought, the purpose of the skies,
The seed of life, beneath Messiah’s care,
Struck its deep roots, and spread its branches fair;
O’er weary deserts cast its lengthening shade;
By every wind its fragrant scent convey’d;
For every tribe of man’s wide wandering race;
Matured the rich, the healing fruits of grace;
With healthful food the humble poor supplied,
And bade the outcasts in its foliage hide;
O’er parched lands distill’d its balmy dew,
And rose like cedar’d Lebanon to view.
Rise, living Tree, in holier beauty rise;
Exalt thy towering trunk, and touch the skies!
Still wide and wider spread thy branches fair;
Let every tribe thy cooling covert share!
On every land thy healing fruits bestow,
And waft thy fragrance by all winds that blow
Fram borean climes, or southern regions mild,
Where nature smiles, or frowns in grandeur wild.
Rise to his praise! His matchless might proclaim,
Who from unmeasured heights of glory came
In tears and blood thy sacred seed to sow;
From whom, exalted now, still plenteous flow
Thy vital juices, and thy verdure bright,
Thy days of sunshine, and thy dews by night!
Rise to his praise! Mature thy golden fruits;
Through sterile ground still strike thy deepening roots.
Till, bright, transplanted to that happier clime,
Where rage no hurricanes of tempest time,
Thy odorous leaves beside the peaceful flood,
Pure, peerless, ‘mid the paradise of God,
To endless ages shall their sweets exhale,
And life, and health, and beauty never fail.
Book VIITable of Contents